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An analysis of Singapore secondary students’ performance on open-ended tasks in mathematics
alternative assessment
problem solving
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the international conference on education, Redesigning Pedagogy: Research, Policy, Practice, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 2005
Open-ended tasks are one mode of alternative assessment used in mathematics. This study is
part of a larger research project on integrating alternative assessment strategies into
mathematics daily teaching and learning. It investigates secondary one students’ performance in
solving open-ended problems in Singapore context. Over three hundred secondary one students
from one high-performing school and one non-high performing school participated in this study.
The test consists of three open-ended tasks, covering both arithmetic and geometry. The
openness of the problems includes two aspects – multiple approaches, which allow students to
begin working on the problems using different approaches, and multiple acceptable answers (i.e.,
more than one correct answer). The results reveal that the majority of students adopted “trial and
error” as the only strategy, which limited the number of possible solutions that most students can
obtain. The students also experienced much difficulty in organizing their solutions. The results
suggest that more variety of problem solving strategies need to be taught and documentation is
another important skill that needs to be paid attention to in problem solving.
Project number: 
CRP 24/03 FLH
Appears in Collections:CRPP - Conference Papers

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